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The Cost of Moderation

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The E:
As y'all know, I recently resigned as Moderator on the forums and Discord. In this post, I want to go into my reasons for doing so in the hopes that this will illuminate what went on on the other side of the screen, so to speak.

I joined this forum in 2008. Relatively soon thereafter, I settled into a niche providing tech support, helping people to get FSO up and running while also doing coding work for the SCP. I also somehow got drafted into the BP team (thanks Darius, Batts, Fury, Dilmah, Herra - y'all are awesome), and as Fury decided to quit, I got drafted as a replacement for him amongst the ranks of the GlobMods.

As anyone else who falls into something, I had to do a lot of learning on the job. I definitely made mistakes, I remember some of them but there's probably a lot more cases where I messed up; I sincerely apologize to anyone whom I've hurt.

Thanks to the help of a couple people who share my desire for a healthy community, I think I got better at it over time.... but feel free to disagree (as I know some of you do).

Then, COVID started happening. As I entered a prolonged period of homeoffice time, there was nothing stopping me from being on Discord pretty much all day, from 7AM to 10PM, every day. I was present during all of that time, I read almost every channel, I acted in many ways as a roaming moderator on the lookout.
Some of the decisions I made during that time were rash, some ill-advised, some outright bad, and some of them led to the emergence of certain narratives about me. One of them, the most pernicious and in many ways the most hurtful one, was that I harboured a personal animus against certain members based on my personal political leanings. I mean, I'm not going to say that there isn't a kernel of truth to it -- My opinions of what a healthy community is are certainly informed by my political opinions, and I am certainly not shy about expressing them. That said, I always tried to be dispassionate about moderation decisions, without regard to my personal feelings about a given person (I do not claim success in this regard) and to get a second opinion when I felt that I couldn't maintain that standard.

Then, the events of last week happened. First, there was the mjn incident - A situation where I am thoroughly convinced that I made the right call, for the right reasons. As with every contentious moderation decision, this too was followed by turmoil - some people taking it as an invitation to air their grievances against mjn, over multiple channels that I was unaware of at the time and had no control over; something that was then thrown in my face as the HLP administrative staff condoning that behaviour.
Second, the Fusion/Andreas Rybak thing - Again, an issue where I feel I made the right decision for the right reasons. And yet, as the inevitable controversy around that erupted, suddenly I was framed as the person who unilaterally banned someone purely because I chose to respond to the topic.

At that point, I couldn't go on any more. With all the stress of the past few months all flowing over, I broke down, full crying collapse at my desk. As the by far most active moderator on Discord and the Forums, I was very exposed - And because there are people out there, and you know who you are, who bear incredible grudges against me and take every opportunity to pile on to any mistake I might make, every decision carried with it a risk that there'd be lengthy call-out posts on the forums.
I realized several things. One is, that this couldn't continue. I had to leave this role before I was going to become nonfunctional, before this community and interacting with it became a traumatic trigger instead of a source of comfort. Secondly, that my presence on the moderation team encouraged a stasis. As long as I was present and trusted to do the right thing (which, by the way, thank you to MageKing, MP Ryan and all the others for having my back), my calls for the recruitment of other moderators weren't going to be treated as urgent as I felt they were.

Thus, I resigned. Abruptly, for which I apologize as this threw the moderation team into a scramble, but out of sheer necessity.

----

Now, a few words to all of you out there who are inclined to blow up a moderation decision you don't like into hundreds of posts and a growing folder of screencaps:
You are damaging yourself and others. You're talking yourself into believing that being told to stop some behaviour is a rejection of you as a person. You're equating a temporary exclusion to a death sentence, a rebuke to a shot to the gut, and nothing could be further from the truth. The new guidelines are, I hope, a step in the right direction to making sure that moderation happens with an understanding that it is a very impersonal function, not a personal affront to the person being moderated.

A while ago, Battuta brought a piece to my attention that was quite influential in shaping my understanding of this matter. It's called "Five Geek Social Fallacies", and I would highly recommend everyone reading this to read that. There are humans on both sides of the screen, and it is all too easy to forget that.

-Joshua-:
In my tenure as a moderator on the Rock Paper Shotgun forum, I noticed that a few of the more toxic members saw me as a person who was making unilateral decisions and tried to contact other moderators to try and play us mods out against each other. This was all rather pathethic, since we were all operating under the same guidelines and were all communicating with eachother wrt what to do. Even then it's very grating, since I (and a lot of people in moderation) are dealing with people who care more about their own egos then they care about other people. And if there's anything I know about you, it's that you don't have that.

I'm not sad about your retirement. I think you've already done more emotional labour then anyone in a volunteer position has any obligation to. And I am quite aware that when it comes to moderation of HLP, nothing will actually change. I think that if you look back on your tenure you did the best job you could have. Acting from empathy has a cost, and I'm glad you were willing to pay that for us. I also think you shouldn't have. Don't neglect your mental health for our sakes!

Mito [PL]:
Oh my Lord.

I have read that post over and over again for more than an hour.

I understand that many of you believe that I am supposed to say something, as the most likely largest offender in this situation. I believe so too. However, this absolutely not something I - and most likely you too - find allowable to write quickly and without much thought put into it. I am barely capable of writing this post as it is. I expect people to converse here soon, and I would like to request that you put that off for some time. It will take me a while to form my words to represent my thoughts as closely as possible, and I think it is vital that my response doesn't get buried under a flurry of other posts. I most likely will be incapable of finishing it today.

I will attempt to write it as soon as possible tomorrow morning - or if I can't sleep, I will be doing it over this night.
Eventually, I might just edit it into this post. Not sure which approach is better.

Thank you for your patience, everyone.

-Joshua-:
Please don't stress yourself out Mito.

General Battuta:

--- Quote from: MitoPL on February 06, 2021, 04:41:47 pm ---Oh my Lord.

I have read that post over and over again for more than an hour.

I understand that many of you believe that I am supposed to say something, as the most likely largest offender in this situation. I believe so too. However, this absolutely not something I - and most likely you too - find allowable to write quickly and without much thought put into it. I am barely capable of writing this post as it is. I expect people to converse here soon, and I would like to request that you put that off for some time. It will take me a while to form my words to represent my thoughts as closely as possible, and I think it is vital that my response doesn't get buried under a flurry of other posts. I most likely will be incapable of finishing it today.

I will attempt to write it as soon as possible tomorrow morning - or if I can't sleep, I will be doing it over this night.
Eventually, I might just edit it into this post. Not sure which approach is better.

Thank you for your patience, everyone.

--- End quote ---

Mito, it's not your fault. You were in a place where something was hurting you emotionally. You reacted. Now this is hurting you emotionally and you want to apologize.

You are in a bad place and everything feels like the worst, most important thing in the world. You need to be in a place where you can not feel that way. The fact that you feel bad about it is, I feel semi-qualified to say, probably enough for The E. I doubt he needs a lengthy mea culpa.

Please, rather than trying to take this on yourself, just go take care of yourself. An internet community should not be an all-consuming emotional experience. Try to get your keel back. Talk to someone, get some distance. It helps.

Again, the fact that you care is enough to demonstrate in, I think, nearly anybody's eyes that you are not acting out of malice.

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